the dream
rockin' and rollin' on two wheels by pedal power

Tour de France 2011

Posted: July 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: general | No Comments »

Every year I get so wrapped up in the Tour. Another wonderful year. And if you aren’t reading the Tour de Schmalz, you are missing out.


Maintenance parts and accessories

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles, general | No Comments »

New York has been enduring a cool and wet spring. This doesn’t seem to phase many of the people I see riding. I suppose they don’t mind dealing with the aftermath of a wed and muddy ride. Many have a preference for indoor training which allows a more focused work-out, particularly when training with a coach and/or with power.

As I have previously written, I ride for fun and train to be less fat, so doubling my riding time by adding cleaning time and grinding out miles on the trainer are not for me. Consequently, I am not quite as fit as I’d like to be. Still, May is nearly upon us and I have big things in May. May hosts two of the H2H series races, the Stewart 6 Pack (a 6 hour mountain bike race), and the Gran Fondo NY (160km on the road). For better or worse, my fitness in May will be tested.

While I am not doing everything I can for the engine, the rest of the machinery is getting the treatment.

For the Gran Fondo, I am planning to run compact gearing. The ride will have nearly 7,000 ft of climbing, a large percentage in the final third of the event. With an 11-25 on the back of my Moots, I am thinking that the 34t fallback will be appreciated.

Additionally, after trying some of the old school Specialized carbon(ish) road cages, I am switching to the King Ti cages for the ride. I don’t want to be losing bottles.

For the off-road events there is a lot of change. I sold my 2008 Intense Spider XVP and am moving most of the parts over to a similar vintage Turner Sultan – 29er sussy, yo! In the spirit of overkill, I am also working on a modded Ti Phoenix (26er), a full rigid Potts Ti 29er and a Moots Mooto-X hardtail. For the May races, however, the Turner will be the bike. Sids Bikes is building up wheels with Stan’s Crest rims and a mismatched XTR DT Swiss hubset. I discovered that my rear brake hose was going to be too short as well. Brake stuff was needed. First I picked up an XTR Centerlock rotor (classic Shimano smart but proprietary).

More optimistically, I picked up replacement hose and a bleed kit…

Finally, I still have too many classic bikes and so couldn’t pass up this 1 inch threadless Answer ATAC stem. Handy when you need it!

Assorted Stuff – XTR, Fluevogs, Serotta, PD T-100 and More!

Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: general | No Comments »

For a brief period Shimano made a very ugly but very good platform/toe-clip pedal – the PD T-100. The name designated these as Shimano’s triathlon offering. I have big plans to have this set modded up. I need to get some Christophe toe clips and some Binda straps to get ‘er done.

At some point two Vancouver, B.C. company’s got together to make these shoes – Fluevog for the Canadian-Alt styling and Race Face for the mountain biking know-how. And so, the Race Vogs were born. These are kind of blemmy but maybe can be fixed. From Jasper too. Not so clear from the picture but these are SPD compatible.

I don’t know why you don’t see more Shimano hubs in use. They are so great. This XTR M975 rear is currently being built up with some Stan’s Crest 29er rims. My Turner Sultan is impatiently waiting. I am curious to try Shimano’s funky discs.

The bike uses a 120mm Manitou Minute fork in the front which means a 20mm Thru-Axle. I split the set and am going to use this DT Hayes hub on the front.

Back in the day Sedis chains were my favorite and I regularly went with the inexpensive and long-lasting GT7. Sedis chains (an indeed consumables generally) are spendy now so I was happy to chance upon this Sedis ATB chain with a decent price. The chain is now installed on the Cunningham Wombat that I have been restoring very slowly.

I am also thinking of retaping the bars on my Cunningham Expedition. I have some funky 80s silver vinyl tape but age has caused the adhesive to degrade so it is more of a lube – the tape kind of oozes around on the bars. In any case, black cloth tape would look better. I want to have some strategically placed padding on the bars though. These weird pads might be the ticket. Marketed as a Cinelli product but these have no markings to indicate whether that is true.

Although my bikes tend to be unobtainium, I have always had a soft spot for the Duralcan  Specialized bikes. I thought they looked smartly put together bikes. I have heard that they ride really nice too. So … an M2.

Serotta bikes are one of those rare makes that have been able to persevere. Make no mistake, the bike industry is a particularly hard one. And while Serotta bikes today offer the full range of high tech, high zoot options, this Super Record equipped road bike is all old-world craftsmanship.


Mantis Sherpa and XCR on display

Posted: March 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: general | No Comments »

Got this cool snap from Monkey Wrench Cycles in Nebraska. Their new space looks fantastic. In the pic you can kind of make out my XCR with a Ken Beach (of Gecko Cycles fame) smoke finish and older style WTB roller cams. The red bike is a Sherpa in full, original, touring kit. It has racks by Bruce Gordon and these fantastic hand made panniers. Cool cool beans.

Oh yea, you can also see a wicked Moots and a sweet (or spicy?) Salsa.


Posted: February 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: general | No Comments »

There is a loop that I have enjoyed for many years that goes through the mountains in the north of Osaka prefecture. The ride offers challenging and scenic climbs. The climb is also often a great spot to see families of nihonzaru – Japanese monkeys. The primates are also known as snow monkeys and are often photographed enjoying hotspring baths during the winter. Midway through the climb you get to Mino waterfall, which has been celebrated in poems for centuries. After a brief plateau, the climb continues on to the Katsuoji temple. From there I usually descend and then make my way back through the city. If a longer ride is desired, it is possible to take roads deeper into the mountains for more climbing and more beauty.

The loop can been ridden from the Katuoji side as well, that is, you can climb to Katsuoji, descend to the waterfall and then continue to descend into the city. I don’t like this route as much, finding the descent much less fun.

From downtown Osaka, the ride is around 40 miles and has around 2000 feet for elevation gain. The biggest bummer is that the city part of the ride can be slow as you navigate river crossings, which typically require you find a route that is available for bikes.

The climb is nice, lots of trees, narrow winding roads.

There is a path that goes from Mino Hankyu train station to the waterfall as well. I haven’t spent as much time on it as I might. Snow was falling on my ride but the weather wasn’t too cold.

I finally have a road bike to ride in Japan, in the past I’ve ridden mamacheri (commuter bikes), mountain bikes and bikes built from found parts. The road bike is the way to go.

My ride of choice is this 1986ish Look Hinault. The bike is built from exotic Reynolds 753 and is equipped with a mix of C Record and Mavic SSC parts, with a Dura Ace freewheel. I could use a slightly lower gear. The wheels are Mavic MA50s – kind of like the SSC of clinchers.

I like to get a can or bottle of soda or tea before hitting the climb.

During New Years, the line of cars to Katsuoji temple extended nearly to bottom of the climb.

Once I got get back to the city, I like to enjoy ramen in Umeda.

Doping amateur masters

Posted: December 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: general | No Comments »

Great post at NY Velocity about cycling’s latest wtf boondoggle

Where it all began…

Posted: September 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: bicycles, general | 1 Comment »

Bikes have had a meaningful part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I will grant that I don’t recall what my first bike was, but I do recall that it was red.  I learned to ride a bike on that unpaved street and rode it up and down and up and down our drive that extended toward to river that was well behind the property.

My next bike as a Raleigh BMX.  This was the Canadian Raleigh so who really knows what the model was.  The bike was very entry level, but there were some neat details.  The frame was a loop-tail and it had an oval top tube.  Yes, very much like a Yeti FRO.  The frame was silver. I rode that bike hard until I got my first 10-speed.

I don’t recall how I came to get it, but around sixth grade I got a Nishiki International, which was in many ways a nice bike.  It was dark metallic blue and had alloy rims, Suntour parts (ARX probably) and lots of other nice details.  I entered my first race on that bike in the seventh grade, racing the bike leg of a triathlon.  Around that time I also got my my first mountain bike.  Also, by about 1985, I was reading bike magazines with a hunger.

Nishiki International just like mine

My first mountain bike came from the Terrace Co-op, and was pretty much a piece of junk.  Very heavy frame, built from some sort of craptastic pig iron.  Parts were all garbage.  Still, I wrenched and rode that thing all over the place.  I carefully drilled and filed parts to reduce weight (somewhat pointlessly) and toiled for ours packing and repacking bearings, lubing cables, and tweaking it to be “just so.” I even painted the bike to make it lumpy and white.

By the ninth grade I had moved to Edmonton.  To realize my dreams of having a mountain bike that was a pile of garbage, I started working as a wrench and salesguy at the now defunct Edmonton Cycle.  At school I also successfully pitched writing a paper on local framebuilder Jim Moulden as my Academic Challenge project.

Edmonton Cycle carried Norco, Nishiki, Fiore, Raleigh and BRC bicycles.  All mid to low range Canadian brands.  Still, the Fiore San Remo was good enough for me, with Araya rims, a Tange frame and Deore running gear.  I rode and tweaked that bike hard. Hanging out at Jim’s frame shop, however, I knew I really wanted something with a sloping top tube that was hand built from Tange Prestige and which was fillet brazed.  My hunger was starting to take shape.

By the end of ninth grade, I picked up my first used Moulden. The bike was radical with a rasta fade, and a 140mm stem.  It was fast and low and tore it up on the fast Edmonton hardpack trails.  I continued to upgrade the bike with Bullseye, IRD and WTB parts and eventually had it repainted blue, purple and teal. I also picked up a Colnago Sport (which is not like the bike below)

When I was in 10th grade, Jim decided to open up a retail shop – The Hardcore Mountainbike Store.  I jumped to the shop and enjoyed working there.  In addition to Mouldens, we sold Konas, Breezers and Bridgestones.

I went through a sequence of Jim’s bikes, as I tried different frame geometries and designs.  The first Moulden that I had built for me was steep with short chainstays and a long top tube. (72/74, 22.5, 16 3/8).

In 1989, after a ferocious letter-writing campaign, Jacquie Phelan and Charlie Cunningham relented and let me come to their place in Marin to soak in the mountain bike history.  I had an idyllic time riding with them and other local luminaries and hanging in Charlie’s shop.  I drove them both nuts too, natch.

After returning, I got some Charlie religion and designed a more relaxed with a shorter top tube and longer stays. (70/71, 22.25, 17).  At that time I was racing a Proctor Townsend 753 frame with a mix of Campagnolo and Dura Ace parts.

After graduating high school I had plans to try to get involved in the bike industry and maybe even to race mountain bikes professionally.  My big plan involved intense training to build on my final successful year as a junior racer.  Things didn’t work out and I hurt my knees riding through Northern California.  After returning from the trip I did months and months of rehab but wasn’t successful.  I also hurt my shoulder and had to have surgery that wiped me out for nearly a year.  After recovering from surgery, I sold my bikes and went to college.

In high school, one of my dreams was to get to Osaka – the heartland of the Japanese cycling industry and home to Tange, Shimano, Araya and others.  It wasn’t until my second to last year of college that I was able to actually get to Osaka – and rekindled my love of bikes.  I started riding again.  I built my Japanese bike up from spare parts that had been discarded at the dorm I was staying.

In Osaka I rode all over the place, but my favorite ride was to Mino.

I came back from Japan, graduated, started working and also re-immersed myself in the bike world. In particular, I started hunting down the bikes that I had developed a love of during the 80s and early 90s.

In the early naughties I started racing again, racing the NYC area H2H series as well as joining park races (circuits in Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn). I also discovered that a nostalgia community in the form of the Vintage Retro Classic sub-forum on I resurrected my 1980s persona as the bushpig (in the 80s there had in fact been two bushpigs).

Keeping it Top Shelf

Posted: September 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: general | No Comments »

Welcome to the Top Shelf bicycles site.  My goal for this site is to discuss the bicycles that I have the passion for. These are largely from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s, with the real focus nearly squarely in the middle. Maybe I will talk a little politics and aesthetics too if the mood strikes me.